BAMAKO, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Malian army has entered Kidal for maintenance of control, after recapturing Gao and Timbuktu with the backing of allied troops from other African countries and its former colonial power France, according to the military.
The deputy director of information for the Malian army, lieutenant-colonel Souleymane Dembele, said on Thursday that the army was in Kidal and would stay there.
Dembele told a press conference in Bamako that more Malian soldiers would be deployed to the town as part of on-going operations to recapture entire territory from rebels.
He also denied any military collaboration between the French army and the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).
The French army controlled the Kidal airport before Malian soldiers entered the town. Paris has appealed for dialogue between the Malian government and the MNLA, which declared independence of northern Mali in April 2012.
The MNLA, alongside the other rebels groups of MUJAO, AQIM and Ansar Dine, took advantage of a military coup on March 22, 2012 to sweep through northern Mali. The MNLA was soon outweighed by the other rebel groups seeking to impose Sharia law throughout Mali.
Both the MNLA and Ansar Dine are considered home grown rebels. The government opened talks with Ansar Dine late last year, but failed to reach any agreement.
On Thursday, Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore said he was open to dialogue only with the MNLA.
"Today, the only group that we could think of negotiation with is certainly the MNLA," said Traore during an interview with Radio France International.
Dembele also told reporters that four rebels were arrested in Gao on Monday, including a 15-year-old Malian, a Nigerian and two Algerians.